He's ruled out boots on the ground, but ahead of President Obama's midweek speech on ISIS, many are expecting a commitment of as many as three years to eliminate the militant threat.
The president spoke about that threat at the NATO conference in Wales last week and thanked NATO for its support in the effort to "degrade and destroy" ISIS, words he's used on more than one occasion. (Video via The White House)
Then on Sunday, the president gave debutant "Meet The Press" moderator Chuck Todd a general preview of Wednesday's speech.
PRESIDENT OBAMA VIA NBC: "We are going to be, as part of an international coalition, carrying out airstrikes in support of work on the ground by Iraqi troops, Kurdish troops."
The New York Times had a more specific timetable for the U.S. mission, citing senior administration officials who said the president had a three-phase plan.
The first phase would focus on airstrikes, as the president described in the "Meet the Press" interview. The second would be to organize and train Kurdish fighters and Sunni tribes. And the third phase would be taking on ISIS targets in Syria, where the group is based.
And it's that last step that is expected to take the longest, although exactly how long, nobody seems to be sure.
One number that's gotten tossed around is three years, which comes from Secretary of State John Kerry's remarks at that same NATO summit in Wales. Kerry said it could take two or three years to eliminate the threat. (Video via U.S. Department of State)
But other members of Congress shied away from that number:
REP. ED ROYCE, R-CALIFORNIA, VIA CNN: "I don't think that it ... I don't think any of us know how long this would take."
That hasn't stopped outlets from making statements like this:
FOX NEWS: "Now apparently he's going to destroy ISIS over three years, leaving a lot of the mess, a lot of it to his successors."
MSNBC: "The three-pronged plan will last three years."
That's despite the fact that nobody has said it will last three years — even The New York Times article that many reports are citing only says it may take three years, citing that statement from Kerry in Wales. The president's speech is scheduled for Wednesday.